Shoppers may not be keen to rummage through racks at secondhand stores for clothing, but used furniture sales and consignments are going through the roof.
Shoppers are also spending more time shopping high-end, luxury secondhand treasures online and on social media, two Scottsdale-based consignment store owners report.
“My Sister’s Attic, which is our furniture and home furnishing store, is doing really well. It actually beat last year’s comp sales, which in a time like this is heard of,” said Ann Siner, CEO and co-founder of consignment retail stores My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic and Well Suited.
Less than a mile south of My Sister’s Closet’s Lincoln Village store, To Be Continued has also seen success amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Since pivoting to Instagram and turning its brick-and-mortar store into a hybrid online destination, the luxury consignment store at the Shops at Hilton Village has seen a 57 percent year-over-year growth since the onset of the pandemic and a monthly increase of 1,000 followers on Instagram.
“At the onset of the pandemic in March, everything came to a screeching halt as we were suddenly unable to service our client base who regularly traveled to our brick-and-mortar locations to buy and sell their luxury goods. So, we had to think quickly and strategically,” said Chrissy Sayare, co-owner of To Be Continued.
That meant focusing on their digital presence and offering virtual styling sessions through Instagram Stories in order to consign their designer handbags, apparel, shoes, accessories and more to those shopping from home.
“We’ve been able to access clients from all over the world that are purchasing our products in real time,” Sayare said. “Over the last few months, we’ve shipped Louis Vuitton and Prada bags to the beaches of Turk and Caicos, Hermes handbags to Hong Kong and a Karl Lagerfeld vintage handbag to the head handbag designer for Chanel in Paris. It’s truly amazing to see the demand during these times.”
According to research from Future Market Insights, a retail analytics firm, online resellers – think Poshmark and Thredup – are expected to jump from $30 million in sales in the United States in 2020 to $70 million by 2027.
Traditional in-store thrift and resale, however, are expected to drop from $57 million in 2020 to $50 million by 2027.
As Siner embraced embrace social media and expanded their virtual presence, offering FaceTime shopping for their customers, in-store shopping boomed – specifically at her My Sister’s Attic stores in Scottsdale, Chandler and Encinitas, California.
“We’re up 25 percent in Arizona and 14 percent in California. That’s just for the month of August,” Siner said.
People are not only spending more money, but they’re also consigning more items than ever before — and quality furniture and decor at that.
“We’ve always gotten really nice things but the quality of the furniture right now is just craziness: a lot of Restoration Hardware, Roche Bobois, good basics like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn. Everything’s in great condition or we won’t take it; and it’s coming in so fast and furious,” Siner said, suggesting this spike is likely the result of cabin fever.
“I think because people were stuck at home and they looked around their house, ‘I need a new dining room.’ Or, they moved their office home and need some new office things. Or, they weren’t modeled, or they got a divorce,” Siner surmised. “It was life-changing, for so many people to be at home for so long.”
Unlike To Be Continued, clothing sales at Siner’s My Sister’s Closet stores were a different story:
Arizona Closets was down in August compared to last year by 20 percent – and that’s considered their best month since the shutdown.
Why aren’t people buying used clothing?
“People have nowhere to go,” Siner said simply. “You’re not going to a cocktail party. You’re really not going out to a restaurant very often. And you have no galas, no fundraisers, no social events. You’re not even going to meetings in person, so you don’t need new party clothes or even new work wear.”
According to a July survey from Mintel, 33 percent of people have stopped buying clothes entirely while 32 percent have concerns about shopping for clothes in a store.
Over the past two weekends, however, Siner did see glimmers of hope:
Their Fall Unveiling event, where more than 100,000 fall items were unveiled, saw nearly 100 people lined up in the heat to shop at their Lincoln Village store.
Crowding isn’t an issue at My Sister’s Closet stores, either; both their flagship store in Scottsdale and their store in Chandler are a staggering 15,000 square feet.
While My Sister’s Closet stores may not be reporting strong consignment numbers, To Be Continued has – thanks to its new trade program, which allows shoppers to trade in items at no additional cost.
Once the deal has been negotiated, To Be Continued then authenticates, photographs and takes ownership of the new items and sells them through its online store for a profit.